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Swimming is an individual or team
racing sport
racing sport
that requires the use of one's entire body to move through water. The sport takes place in
pools
pools
or open water (e.g., in a sea or lake). Competitive swimming is one of the most popular
Olympic sports Olympic sports are contested in the Summer Olympic Games The Summer Olympic Games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, are a major international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over ...
, with varied distance events in
butterfly Butterflies are insect Insects (from Latin ') are pancrustacean Hexapoda, hexapod invertebrates of the class (biology), class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three ...

butterfly
,
backstroke Backstroke or back crawl is one of the four swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of ...

backstroke
,
breaststroke Breaststroke is a human swimming, swimming style in which the swimmer is on their chest and the torso does not rotate. It is the most popular recreational style due to the swimmer's head being out of the water a large portion of the time, and ...

breaststroke
,
freestyle Freestyle may refer to: Brands * Reebok Freestyle, a women's athletic shoe * Ford Freestyle, an SUV automobile * Coca-Cola Freestyle, a vending machine * ICD Freestyle, a paintball marker * Freestyle, NATO reporting name for the Yakovlev Yak-141, ...

freestyle
, and
individual medley Medley is a combination of four different swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of wate ...
. In addition to these individual events, four swimmers can take part in either a freestyle or medley
relay A relay Electromechanical relay schematic showing a control coil, four pairs of normally open and one pair of normally closed contacts An automotive-style miniature relay with the dust cover taken off A relay is an electric Electricity i ...

relay
. A medley relay consists of four swimmers who will each swim a different stroke, ordered as backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. Swimming each stroke requires a set of specific techniques; in competition, there are distinct regulations concerning the acceptable form for each individual stroke. There are also regulations on what types of
swimsuit A swimsuit is an item of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A texti ...
s, caps, jewelry and injury tape that are allowed at competitions. Although it is possible for competitive swimmers to incur several injuries from the sport, such as
tendinitis Tendinopathy, also known as tendinitis or tendonitis, is a type of tendon disorder that results in pain, swelling, and impaired function. The pain is typically worse with movement. It most commonly occurs around the shoulder (rotator cuff tendinit ...

tendinitis
in the shoulders or knees, there are also multiple health benefits associated with the sport.


History

Evidence of recreational swimming in prehistoric times has been found, with the earliest evidence dating to
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
paintings from around 10,000 years ago. Written references date from 2000 BC, with some of the earliest references to swimming including the
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; sometimes referred to as the ''Song of Ilion'' or ''Song of Ilium'') is an in , traditionally attributed to . Usually considered to have been written down circa the 8th century BC, the ''Iliad'' i ...

Iliad
, the
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí ...
, the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
,
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literat ...

Beowulf
, the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

Quran
and others. In 1538, Nikolaus Wynmann, a Swiss–German professor of languages, wrote the earliest known complete book about swimming, ''Colymbetes, sive de arte natandi dialogus et festivus et iucundus lectu'' (''The Swimmer, or A Dialogue on the Art of Swimming and Joyful and Pleasant to Read''). Swimming emerged as a competitive recreational activity in the 1830s in England. In 1828, the first indoor swimming pool, St George's Baths was opened to the public. By 1837, the National Swimming Society was holding regular swimming competitions in six artificial
swimming pool A swimming pool, swimming bath, wading pool, paddling pool, or simply pool, is a structure designed to hold water to enable Human swimming, swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be built into the ground (in-ground pools) or built ...

swimming pool
s, built around
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
. The recreational activity grew in popularity and by 1880, when the first national governing body, the
Amateur Swimming Association Swim England is the national governing body for swimming, diving, water polo Water polo is a competitive sport, competitive team sport played in water between two teams of 7 players each. The game consists of four quarters in which the two te ...
was formed, there were already over 300 regional clubs in operation across the country. In 1844 two
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
participants at a swimming competition in London introduced the front crawl to a European audience. Sir John Arthur Trudgen picked up the hand-over stroke from some South American natives and successfully debuted the new stroke in 1873, winning a local competition in England. His stroke is still regarded as the most powerful to use today. Captain
Matthew Webb Captain Matthew Webb (19 January 1848 – 24 July 1883) was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" ( Cotentinais) or (Jèrriais), (Guernésiais), "The Ch ...

Matthew Webb
was the first man to swim the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
(between England and France), in 1875. Using the breaststroke technique, he swam the channel in 21 hours and 45 minutes. His feat was not replicated or surpassed for the next 36 years, until T.W. Burgess made the crossing in 1911. Other European countries also established swimming federations;
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
in 1882,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
in 1890 and
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
in 1896. The first European amateur swimming competitions were in 1889 in
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
. The world's first women's swimming championship was held in
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
in 1892. Men's swimming became part of the first modern
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
in 1896 in Athens. In 1902, the Australian Richmond Cavill introduced freestyle to the Western world. In 1908, the world swimming association, Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), was formed. Women's swimming was introduced into the Olympics in 1912; the first international swim meet for women outside the Olympics was the
1922 Women's Olympiad The 1922 Women's Olympiad ( and ) was the second Competitive swimming became popular in the 19th century. The goal of high level competitive swimming is to break personal or world records while beating competitors in any given event. Swimming in competition should create the least resistance in order to obtain maximum speed. However, some professional swimmers who do not hold a national or world ranking are considered the best in regard to their technical skills. Typically, an athlete goes through a cycle of training in which the body is overloaded with work in the beginning and middle segments of the cycle, and then the workload is decreased in the final stage as the swimmer approaches competition. The practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition is called
tapering This article is about the use of the word "tapering" in sports. For the "tapering" in the 2010-2014 unconventional monetary policy in the United States, please see Quantitative easing. In the context of sports, tapering refers to the practice of r ...
. Tapering is used to give the swimmer's body some rest without stopping exercise completely. A final stage is often referred to as "shave and taper": the swimmer shaves off all exposed hair for the sake of reducing drag and having a sleeker and more hydrodynamic feel in the water. Additionally, the "shave and taper" method refers to the removal of the top layer of "dead skin", which exposes the newer and richer skin underneath. This also helps to "shave" off mere milliseconds on your time. Swimming is an event at the
Summer Olympic Games The Summer Olympic Games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, are a major international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), ...
, where male and female athletes compete in 16 of the recognized
events Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony, an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion * Convention (meeting), a gathering of individuals engaged in some common interest * Event management, the organization of event ...
each. Olympic events are held in a 50-meter pool, called a long course pool. There are forty officially recognized individual swimming events in the pool; however the
International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: Comité international olympique, ''CIO'') is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, m ...
only recognizes 32 of them. The international governing body for competitive swimming is the ''Fédération Internationale de Natation'' ("International Swimming Federation"), better known as
FINA FINA (french: Fédération internationale de natation, en, International Swimming Federation, link=yes) is the international federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: C ...
.


Open water

In
open water swimming Open water swimming is a swimming discipline which takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as open ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . ...

open water swimming
, where the events are swum in a body of open water (lake or sea), there are also 5 km, 10 km and 25 km events for men and women. However, only the 10 km event is included in the Olympic schedule, again for both men and women. Open-water competitions are typically separate to other swimming competitions with the exception of the World Championships and the Olympics.


Swim styles

In competitive swimming, four major styles have been established. These have been relatively stable over the last 30–40 years with minor improvements. They are: *
Butterfly Butterflies are insect Insects (from Latin ') are pancrustacean Hexapoda, hexapod invertebrates of the class (biology), class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three ...

Butterfly
*
Backstroke Backstroke or back crawl is one of the four swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of ...

Backstroke
*
Breaststroke Breaststroke is a human swimming, swimming style in which the swimmer is on their chest and the torso does not rotate. It is the most popular recreational style due to the swimmer's head being out of the water a large portion of the time, and ...

Breaststroke
*
Freestyle Freestyle may refer to: Brands * Reebok Freestyle, a women's athletic shoe * Ford Freestyle, an SUV automobile * Coca-Cola Freestyle, a vending machine * ICD Freestyle, a paintball marker * Freestyle, NATO reporting name for the Yakovlev Yak-141, ...

Freestyle
In competition, only one of these styles may be used except in the case of the individual medley, or IM, which consists of all four. In this latter event, swimmers swim equal distances of butterfly, then backstroke, breaststroke, and finally, freestyle. In Olympic competition, this event is swum in two distances – 200 and 400 meters. Some
short course In Swimming (sport), swimming, the term short course (abbreviated SC) is used to identify a pool that is in length. The term is also often included in meet names when conducted in a short course pool. "Short course" is the second type of pool conf ...
competitions also include the 100-yard or 100-meter IM – particularly, for younger or newer swimmers (typically under 14 years) involved in club swimming, or masters swimming (over 18).


Dolphin kick

Since the 1990s, the most drastic change in swimming has been the addition of the underwater dolphin kick. This is used to maximize the speed at the start and after the turns in all styles. The first successful use of it was by
David Berkoff David Charles "Dave" Berkoff (born November 30, 1966) is an American former competition swimming (sport), swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in two events. Berkoff was a backstroke specialist who won a total of four Olympic ...
. At the 1988 Olympics, he swam most of the 100 m backstroke race underwater and broke the world record in the distance during the preliminaries. Another swimmer to use the technique was Denis Pankratov at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he completed almost half of the 100 m butterfly underwater to win the gold medal. In the past decade, American competitive swimmers have shown the most use of the underwater dolphin kick to gain advantage, most notably Olympic and World medal winners
Michael Phelps Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) is an American former competitive swimmer. He is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold me ...

Michael Phelps
and
Ryan Lochte Ryan Steven Lochte ( ; born August 3, 1984) is an American professional and 12-time medalist. Along with , , and , he is the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history measured by total number of medals, behind only . Lochte's rank seco ...

Ryan Lochte
; however currently swimmers are not allowed to go any further than fifteen metres underwater due to rule changes by
FINA FINA (french: Fédération internationale de natation, en, International Swimming Federation, link=yes) is the international federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: C ...
. In addition, FINA announced in 2014 that a single dolphin kick can be added to the breaststroke pullout prior to the first breaststroke kick. While the dolphin kick is mostly seen in middle-distance freestyle events and in all distances of backstroke and butterfly, it is not usually used to the same effect in freestyle sprinting. That changed with the addition of the so-called "technical" suits around the European Short Course Championships in Rijeka, Croatia in December 2008. There,
Amaury Leveaux Amaury Raymond Leveaux (born 2 December 1985) is a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française) ...

Amaury Leveaux
set new world records of 44.94 seconds in the 100 m freestyle, 20.48 seconds in the 50 m freestyle and 22.18 in the 50 m butterfly. Unlike the rest of the competitors in these events, he spent at least half of each race submerged using the dolphin kick.


Competition pools

World Championship A world championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport, game, o ...
pools must be (
long course An Olympic-size swimming pool conforms to regulated dimensions that are large enough for international competition. This type of swimming pool is used in the Olympic Games, where the race course is in length, typically referred to as "long cours ...
) long and wide, with ten lanes labelled zero to nine (or one to ten in some pools; zero and nine (or one and ten) are usually left empty in semi-finals and finals); the lanes must be at least wide. They will be equipped with starting blocks at both ends of the pool and most will have Automatic Officiating Equipment, including touch pads to record times and sensors to ensure the legality of
relay A relay Electromechanical relay schematic showing a control coil, four pairs of normally open and one pair of normally closed contacts An automotive-style miniature relay with the dust cover taken off A relay is an electric Electricity i ...

relay
takeovers. The pool must have a minimum depth of two metres. Other pools which host events under
FINA FINA (french: Fédération internationale de natation, en, International Swimming Federation, link=yes) is the international federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: C ...
regulations are required to meet some but not all of these requirements. Many of these pools have eight, or even six, instead of ten lanes and some will be long, making them
Short course In Swimming (sport), swimming, the term short course (abbreviated SC) is used to identify a pool that is in length. The term is also often included in meet names when conducted in a short course pool. "Short course" is the second type of pool conf ...
.
World records A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, sport, or other kind of activity. The book ''Guinness World Records'' collates and publishes notable record ...
that are set in short course pools are kept separate from those set in long course pools because it may be an advantage or disadvantage to swimmers to have more or less turns in a race.


Seasons

Competitive swimming, from the club through to international level, tends to have an autumn and winter season competing in short course (25 metres or yards) pools and a spring and summer season competing in long course (50-metre) pools and in open water. In international competition and in club swimming in Europe, the short course (25m) season lasts from September to December, and the long course (50m) season from January to August with open water in the summer months. These regulations are slowly being brought to competition in North America. As of right now, in club, school, and college swimming in the United States and Canada, the short course (25 yards) season is much longer, from September to March. The long-course season takes place in 50-meter pools and lasts from April to the end of August with open water in the summer months. In club swimming in
Australasia Australasia is a region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...

Australasia
, the short course (25m) season lasts from April to September, and the long course (50m) season from October to March with open water in the summer months. Outside the United States, meters is the standard in both short and long course swimming, with the same distances swum in all events. In the American short course season, the 500-yard, 1000 yard, and 1650-yard freestyle events are swum as a yard is much shorter than a meter (100 yards equals 91.44 meters), while during the American long course season the 400 meter, 800 meter, and 1500-meter freestyle events are swum instead. Beginning each swimming season racing in short course allows for shorter distance races for novice swimmers. For example, in the short course season if a swimmer wanted to compete in a stroke they had just learned, a 25-yard/meter race is available to them, opposed to the long course season when they would need to be able to swim at least 50 meters of that new stroke in order to compete.


Officials

There are several types of officials, which are needed to manage the competition. Referee: The
referee A referee is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the ex ...

referee
has full control and authority over all officials. The referee will enforce all rules and decisions of FINA and shall have the final answer to all questions relating to the actual conduct of anything regarding the meet, as well as the final settlement of which is not otherwise covered by the rules. The referee takes overall responsibility for running the meet and makes the final decisions as to who wins each race. Referees call swimmers to the blocks with short blasts of his or her whistle. This is the signal for the swimmers to stand next to their blocks. Then the referee will blow a long whistle that will tell the swimmers to step on the block. For backstroke events, the long whistle is the signal for the swimmers to jump into the water. The referee will then blow another long whistle, signalling the swimmers to grab the gutter or the provided block handle. Finally the referee will hand over the rest to the starter by directing his or her hand to the starter. Starter: The starter has full control of the swimmers from the time the referee turns the swimmers over to him/her until the race commences. A starter begins the race by saying, "Take your mark." At this point, the swimmers will get into stationary positions in which they would like to start their race. After all swimmers have assumed their stationary position, the starter will push a button on the starting system, signaling the start of a race with a loud noise (usually a beep or a horn) and flash from a strobe light. A starter sends the swimmers off the blocks and may call a false start if a swimmer leaves the block before the starter sends them. A starter may also choose to recall the race after the start for any reason or request the swimmers to "stand", "relax" or "step down" if he or she believes that (a) particular swimmer(s) has gotten an unfair advantage at the start. Clerk of course: The clerk of course (also called the "bullpen") assembles swimmers prior to each event, and is responsible for organizing ("seeding") swimmers into heats based on their times. Heats are generally seeded from slowest to fastest, where swimmers with no previous time for an event are assumed to be the slowest. The clerk of the course is also responsible for recording and reporting swimmers who have chosen to "scratch" (not swim) their events after they have signed up or qualified to a semifinal or final. The clerk is also responsible for enforcing rules of the swim meet if a swimmer chooses to not show up ("No show" - NS) his or her events. Timekeepers: Each timekeeper takes the time of the swimmers in the lane assigned to him/her. Unless a video backup system is used, it may be necessary to use the full complement of timekeepers even when automatic officiating equipment is used. A chief timekeeper assigns the seating positions for all timekeepers and the lanes for which they are responsible. In most competitions there will be one or more timekeepers per lane. In international competitions where full automatic timing and video placing equipment is in use timekeepers may not be required. Inspectors of turns: One inspector of turns is assigned to one or more lanes at each end of the pool. Each inspector of turns ensures that swimmers comply with the relevant rules for turning, as well as the relevant rules for start and finish of the race. Inspectors of turns shall report any violation on disqualification reports detailing the event, lane number, and the infringement delivered to the chief inspector of turns who will immediately convey the report to the referee. Judges of Stroke: Judges of stroke are located on each side of the pool. They follow the swimmers during their swim back and forth across the pool. They ensure that the rules related to the style of swimming designated for the event are being observed, and observe the turns and the finishes to assist the inspectors of turns. Finish judges: Finish judges determine the order of finish and make sure the swimmers finish in accordance with the rules (two hands simultaneously for breaststroke and butterfly, on the back for backstroke, etc.) If an
official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority, (either th ...

official
observes a swimmer breaking a rule concerning the stroke he or she is swimming, the official will report what they have seen to the referee. The referee can disqualify (or DQ) any swimmer for any violation of the rules that he/she personally observes or for any violation reported to them by other authorised officials. All disqualifications are subject to the decision and discretion of the referee. Those who are disqualified may choose to protest their disqualification . Protests are reviewed by a panel of officials instead of the deck referee or stroke judges who may have made the initial disqualification report.


Swimwear

;
Swimsuit A swimsuit is an item of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A texti ...
: Competitive swimwear seeks to improve upon bare skin for a speed advantage and coverage. In 2009, FINA rules and regulations were altered and suits made with polyurethane were banned because they made athletes more buoyant. These rules also banned suits which go above the
navel The navel (clinically known as the umbilicus, commonly known as the belly button) is a protruding, flat, or hollowed area on the abdomen The abdomen (colloquially called the belly, tummy, midriff or stomach) is the part of the body between th ...

navel
or below the knee for men and suits which extend past the shoulders or cover the neck for women. ;
Swim cap A swimming cap, swim cap or bathing cap, is a tightly fitted, skin-tight garment, commonly made from silicone A silicone or polysiloxane is a polymer made up of siloxane (−R2Si−O−SiR2−, where R = organic group). They are typically ...

Swim cap
: A swim cap (a.k.a. cap) keeps the swimmer's hair out of the way to reduce drag. Caps may be made of latex, silicone, spandex or lycra. ;
Goggles Goggles, or safety glasses, are forms of protective eyewear that usually enclose or protect the area surrounding the eye in order to prevent particulates, water or chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical c ...
: Goggles keep water and
chlorine Chlorine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemica ...

chlorine
out of swimmers' eyes. Goggles may be tinted to counteract glare at outdoor pools. Prescription goggles may be used by swimmers who wear corrective lenses. ;
Swim Fins Swimfins, swim fins or diving fins are finlike accessories worn on the feet, legs or hands and made from rubber, plastic, carbon fiber or combinations of these materials, to aid movement through the water in Water sport (recreation), water sports ...

Swim Fins
: Rubber fins are used to help kick faster and build strength and technique, but are illegal in a race. They also improve technique by keeping the feet in the proper position while kicking. ; Drag suit:Swimmers use drag suits in training to increase resistance. This allows a swimmer to be challenged even more when practicing and let the swimmer feel less resistance when racing. Drag suits are not used in competitive races. ; Hand paddles: Swimmers use these plastic devices to build arm and shoulder strength while refining hand-pulling technique. Hand paddles attach to the hand with rubber tubing or elastic material. They come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on swimmer preference and hand size. ; Kickboard: A kickboard is a foam board that swimmers use to support the weight of the upper body while they focus on kicking. Kicking is the movement of the legs only which helps to increase leg muscle for future strength. ;
Pull buoy A pull buoy or leg float is a figure-eight shaped piece of closed-cell foam used in swim workouts. Swimmers place the buoy between their thighs or their ankles to provide support to the body without kicking their legs; this allows the swimmer to foc ...
: Often used at the same time as hand paddles, pull buoys support swimmers' legs (and prevent them from kicking) while they focus on pulling. Pull buoys are made of foam so they float in the water. Swimmers hold them in between the thighs. They can also be used as a kickboard to make kicking a little harder. ;Ankle bands: Improving balance will minimize the need for this kick to provide an upward, instead of a forward vector, and in some cases completely corrects the kick. Using an ankle band will have the immediate effect of turning off your kick, which then forces you to make efforts to correct your balance. If you are successful in discovering these, then the ankle band has done part of its job. ;: A snorkel is a plastic device that helps swimmers breathe while swimming. This piece of equipment helps the swimmer practice keeping their head in one position, along with training them for the proper breathing technique of breathing in through the mouth and out the nose. This technique is the opposite of a common runner's breathing pattern, which is in the nose and out the mouth.


Common swimwear

Brands such as
Arena An arena is a large enclosed platform, often circular or oval-shaped, designed to showcase theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to prese ...
,
Speedo Speedo International Limited is a distributor of swimwear A swimsuit is an item of clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel ...

Speedo
, TYR, and
Adidas Adidas Aktiengesellschaft, AG (; stylized as adidas since 1949) is a German multinational corporation, founded and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories. It is the largest spor ...

Adidas
are popular regular swimwear brands. The most durable material for regular swimming is Polyester. The main difference between competition and regular swimwear is that competition swimwear is tighter and compresses the muscles of the swimmers. Regular swimwear is easier to put on and more comfortable for leisure activities.


Men

The most used practice swimwear for men includes
briefs Briefs are a type of short, form-fitting underwear Undergarments or underwear are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer. They serve to k ...

briefs
and . Males generally swim barechested. There was controversy after the in 2008 when many Olympic swimmers broke records an unprecedented number of times using revolutionary swimsuits that covered their entire legs. To highlight the issue, in 2008, 70 world records were broken in one year, and 66 Olympic records were broken in one Olympic Games (there were races in Beijing where the first five finishers were swimming faster than the old world record). As of 1 January 2010, men are only allowed to wear suits from the waist to the knees. They are also only permitted to wear one piece of swimwear; they cannot wear briefs underneath jammers. This rule was enacted after the controversy in the Beijing Olympics and Rome World Championships.


Women

Women wear one-piece suits with thicker and higher backs for competition, though two-piece suits can also be worn during practice. Backs vary mainly in strap thickness and geometric design. Most common styles include: racerback, axel back, corset, diamondback, and butterfly-back/Fly-Back. There are also different style lengths: three-quarter length (reaches the knees), regular length (shoulders to hips), and
bikini A bikini is a women's two-piece swimsuit A swimsuit is an item of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothin ...

bikini
style (two-piece). As of 1 January 2010, in competition, women must wear suits that do not go past the shoulders or knees.


Use of drag wear

Drag suits are used to increase water resistance against the swimmer to help them train for competitions. Other forms of drag wear include nylons, old suits, and T-shirts: articles that increase friction in the water to build strength during training, and thus increase speed once drag items are removed for competition. Some swimmers practice in basketball shorts over their bathing suit, wearing two bathing suits, or wearing an extra bathing suit with holes cut in the material. Many swimmers also shave areas of exposed skin before end-of-season competitions to reduce friction in the water. The practice gained popularity after the 1956 Olympics, when Murray Rose and Jon Henricks came shaved and won gold medals for Australia. Freshly shaven skin is less resistant when in the water. In addition, a 1989 study demonstrated that shaving improves a swimmer's overall performance by reducing drag. The disadvantages of using a drag suit include the depletion of proper stroke. This is caused by the swimmer's own fatigue. When the swimmer becomes more fatigued, different muscle groups become more tired. Consequently, the swimmer will try to engage another group of muscle to do the same thing, which can cause the stroke efficiency to drop.


Elite and international swimming

Elite and international swimming comprises the highest level of competition available to swimmers, including competitions such as the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
and
FINA World Aquatics Championships The FINA World Championships or World Aquatics Championships are the World Championships for aquatics sports: swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water, or other liquid, usually for recreation, sport, exercise, or s ...
.


Professionalism

Swimming creates a mix of levels, including: fully professional, semi-professional, and amateur. Fully professional swimmers will typically get a salary both from their national governing body and from outside sponsors, semi-professionals a small stipend from their national governing body, and amateurs receive no funding. Outside of these major championships prize money is low – the 2015 FINA World Cup series has a total prize fund of $3,000 per race shared between the top three and the 2014–15 USA Grand Prix Series $1,800 compared to the 2015 World Aquatics Championships fund of $60,000 per race shared between the top eight.


Open-water swimming

Open water swimming is swimming outside a regular pool, usually in a lake, or sometimes ocean. Popularity of the sport has grown in recent years, particularly since the 10 km open water event was added as an Olympic event in 2005, contested for the first time in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. New recent technology has developed much faster swimsuits. Full body suits have been banned, but swimmers at the very top levels still wear suits that have been lasered together because stitching creates drag. The disadvantage of these suits is that they are often uncomfortable and tight, and can tear easily if not handled carefully. The largest Ocean Swim's in terms of numbers of participants are in Australia, with the
Pier to Pub The Lorne Pier to Pub is an annual, 1.2-km open water swimming race held in January at Lorne, Victoria, Lorne, a town located on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia. It began in 1981, when a member of the Lorne Surf Li ...
, Cole Classic and Melbourne Swim Classic all with roughly 5000 swimming participants.


Changes to the sport

Swimming times have dropped over the years due to superior training techniques and new technical developments. The first four Olympics were not held in pools, but in open water (1896 – the Mediterranean, 1900 – the Seine river, 1904 – an artificial lake, 1906 – the Mediterranean). The 1904 Olympics' freestyle race was the only one ever measured at 100 yards, instead of the usual 100 meters. A 100-meter pool was built for the
1908 Olympics The 1908 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the IV Olympiad, and commonly known as London 1908, was an International sport, international multi-sport event held in London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom, from ...

1908 Olympics
and sat in the center of the main stadium's track and field oval. The
1912 Olympics The 1912 Summer Olympics (Swedish: ''Olympiska sommarspelen 1912''), officially known as the Games of the V Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreationa ...
, held in the Stockholm harbor, marked the beginning of electronic timing. Male swimmers wore full-body suits until the 1940s, which caused more drag in the water than their modern swimwear counterparts experience. Competition suits now include engineered fabric and designs to reduce swimmers' drag in the water and prevent athlete fatigue. In addition, over the years, pool designs have lessened the drag. Some design considerations allow for the reduction of swimming
resistance Resistance may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Comics * Either of two similarly named but otherwise unrelated comic book series, both published by Wildstorm: ** ''Resistance'' (comics), based on the video game of the same title ** ''Th ...
, making the pool faster. These include proper pool depth, elimination of currents, increased lane width, energy absorbing racing lane lines and gutters, and the use of other innovative hydraulic, acoustic, and illumination designs. There have been major changes in starting blocks over the past years. Starting blocks used to be small, narrow and straight but through time they have become bigger and wider and nowadays the surface of the block is angled towards the swimming pool. In addition, starting blocks now have a "wedge" which is a raised, slanting platform situated at the rear of the main block. This enables the swimmer to adopt a crouched position at a 90 degrees angle and push off quicker with the rear leg to increase their launch power. The 1924 Summer Olympics were the first to use the standard 50-meter pool with marked lanes. In the freestyle, swimmers originally dove from the pool walls, but diving blocks were incorporated at the
1936 Summer Olympics The 1936 Summer Olympics (German language, German: ''Olympische Sommerspiele 1936''), officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad (German language, German: ''Spiele der XI. Olympiade''), were an international multi-sport event held from 1 ...
. The
tumble turn A tumble turn or flip turn is one of the turns in swimming, used to reverse the direction in which the person is swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparenc ...
was developed by the 1950s and
goggles Goggles, or safety glasses, are forms of protective eyewear that usually enclose or protect the area surrounding the eye in order to prevent particulates, water or chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical c ...
were first used in the 1976 Olympics. There were also changes in the late 20th century in terms of technique. Breaststrokers are now allowed to dip their heads completely under water to glide, which allows for a longer stroke and faster time. However, the breaststrokers must bring their heads up at the completion of each cycle. In addition, a key hole pull in the breaststroke start and turns has been added to help speed up the stroke. Now off the start and turns, breaststrokers are allowed one butterfly kick to help increase their speed. This change was made official in December 2014. Backstrokers are now allowed to turn on their stomachs before the wall in order to perform a "flip-turn". Previously, they had to reach and flip backwards and a variation of it, known as a "bucket turn" or a "suicide turn", is sometimes used in individual medley events to transition from backstroke to breaststroke.


Records

The foundation of
FINA FINA (french: Fédération internationale de natation, en, International Swimming Federation, link=yes) is the international federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: C ...
in 1908 signaled the commencement of recording the first official
world records in swimming The world records in swimming are ratified by International Swimming Federation, FINA, the international governing body of swimming. Records can be set in long course (50 metres) or short course (25 metres) swimming pools. FINA recognizes world r ...
. At that time records could be established in any swimming pool of length not less than 25 yards, and records were also accepted for intermediate distance split times from long-distance events. Today World Records will only be accepted when times are reported by Automatic Officiating Equipment, or Semi-Automatic Officiating Equipment in the case of Automatic Officiating Equipment system malfunction. Records in events such as 300 yd, 300 m, 1000 yd, and 1000 m freestyle, 400 m backstroke, and 400 m and 500 m breaststroke were no longer ratified from 1948. A further removal of the 500 yd and 500 m freestyle, 150 m backstroke, and 3×100 m medley relay from the record listings occurred in 1952. In 1952, the national federations of the United States and Japan proposed at the FINA Congress the separation of records achieved in long-course and short-course pools, however it was four more years before action came into effect with the Congress deciding to retain only records held in 50 m pools as the official world record listings. By 1969 there were thirty-one events in which FINA recognised official world records – 16 for men, 15 for women – closely resembling the event schedule that was in use at the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
. The increase in accuracy and reliability of electronic timing equipment led to the introduction of hundredths of a second to the time records from 21 August 1972. Records in short course (25 m) pools began to be officially approved as "short course world records" from 3 March 1991. Prior to this date, times in short course (25 m) pools were not officially recognised, but were regarded a "world best time" (WBT). From 31 October 1994 times in 50 m backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly were added to the official record listings. FINA currently recognises world records in the following events for both men and women. * Freestyle: 50 m, 100 m,
200 m The 200 metres, or 200-metre dash, is a sprint Sprint may refer to: Aerospace *Spring WS202 Sprint, a Canadian aircraft design *Sprint (missile), an anti-ballistic missile Automotive and motorcycle *Alfa Romeo Sprint, automobile produced ...
, 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m * Backstroke: 50 m, 100 m,
200 m The 200 metres, or 200-metre dash, is a sprint Sprint may refer to: Aerospace *Spring WS202 Sprint, a Canadian aircraft design *Sprint (missile), an anti-ballistic missile Automotive and motorcycle *Alfa Romeo Sprint, automobile produced ...
* Breaststroke: 50 m, 100 m,
200 m The 200 metres, or 200-metre dash, is a sprint Sprint may refer to: Aerospace *Spring WS202 Sprint, a Canadian aircraft design *Sprint (missile), an anti-ballistic missile Automotive and motorcycle *Alfa Romeo Sprint, automobile produced ...
* Butterfly: 50 m, 100 m,
200 m The 200 metres, or 200-metre dash, is a sprint Sprint may refer to: Aerospace *Spring WS202 Sprint, a Canadian aircraft design *Sprint (missile), an anti-ballistic missile Automotive and motorcycle *Alfa Romeo Sprint, automobile produced ...
* Individual medley: 100 m (short course only),
200 m The 200 metres, or 200-metre dash, is a sprint Sprint may refer to: Aerospace *Spring WS202 Sprint, a Canadian aircraft design *Sprint (missile), an anti-ballistic missile Automotive and motorcycle *Alfa Romeo Sprint, automobile produced ...
, 400 m *Relays: 4×50 m freestyle relay (short course only), World record progression 4 × 100 metres freestyle relay, 4×100 m freestyle, World record progression 4 × 200 metres freestyle relay, 4×200 m freestyle, World record progression 4 × 50 metres medley relay, 4×50 m medley relay (short course only), World record progression 4 × 100 metres medley relay, 4×100 m medley *Mixed relays (teams of two men and two women): World record progression 4 × 50 metres freestyle relay#Mixed, 4×50 m mixed freestyle (short course only), World record progression 4 × 100 metres freestyle relay#Mixed, 4×100 m mixed freestyle (long course only), World record progression 4 × 50 metres medley relay#Mixed, 4×50 m mixed medley (short course only), World record progression 4 × 100 metres medley relay#Mixed, 4×100 m mixed medley (long course only)


Historical breakthroughs

— denotes instances that cannot be determined


Health benefits

Swimming is a healthy activity that can be done by most people throughout their life. It is a low-impact workout that has several mental and bodily health benefits all while being a good recreational activity. Swimming builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Correspondingly, it also improves weight loss while being a safer alternative of working out for someone who is injured or for women who are pregnant. Swimming requires less effort than other sports, but the athletes will get the results they are looking for. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity such as swimming can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses, and help regenerate healthy cells. Furthermore, swimming is linked to better cognitive function; also lowering the risk of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and a stroke. It can improve lung and heart strength while it tones muscles in a full body workout. People can typically exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort and minimal joint or muscle pain. When in the water the body undergoes less physical stress thus releasing pressure from the joints. In addition to the physical benefits of swimming, lower stress levels and occurrences of depression and anxiety are known to decrease while swimming. Swimming is a meditation sport meaning there is an increase of blood flow to the brain which allows an individual to evaluate stressors more calmly. The activity can help increase the memory for older aged individuals who suffer from dementia.


Common injuries

The rotator cuff in the shoulder is most susceptible to injury in swimmers. Injury to the rotator cuff results from repeated trauma and overuse. The joints are more prone to injury when the arm is repetitively used in a position above the horizontal line of the body. This position occurs in each of the four swimming strokes in every cycle of the arms. Out of the four tendons in the rotator cuff, the supraspinatus is most prone to tearing. Rotator cuff impingement is due to pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the scapula as the arm is raised. The best way to prevent injury is catching the issue early. Typically, poor technique and over excessive use of the muscle group can be the primary causes of injury. Through communication between swimmers, coaches, parents, and medical professionals, any issue can be diagnosed prior to a serious injury. Additionally, proper warm-up, stretches, and strength training exercises should be completed before any rigorous movements. In treating a rotator cuff injury, the most important factor is time. Due to the nature of the joint being primarily stabilized by muscle and tendon, the injury must be fully healed to prevent recurrence. Returning to swimming or other demanding exercises too soon can result in degeneration of a tendon which might result in a rupture. During the rehabilitation period, focus should be placed on rotator cuff and scapular strengthening. Another common injury is breaststroke knee, also known as swimmer's knee. This injury is caused by the kicking movement used while swimming breaststroke. The kicking movement will cause wear and tear on the knee and it will eventually lead to constant pain. In recent studies it has been found that initially, the pain is only experienced when the kick was executed, but eventually the pain spread to other regular day-to-day activities, athletic and non-athletic.


See also

* Diving (sport), Diving *
FINA World Aquatics Championships The FINA World Championships or World Aquatics Championships are the World Championships for aquatics sports: swimming Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water, or other liquid, usually for recreation, sport, exercise, or s ...
* Free Colchian * Georgian swimming * Lifeguard * List of swimming styles * List of water sports * List of world records in swimming * Sports nutrition * Synchronized swimming * Swimming at the Summer Olympics * Swimsuit#Swimwear and hygiene, Swimwear and hygiene * U.S. Masters Swimming * Water aerobics * Water polo


References


External links


International Swimming Federation
– the international governing body. {{DEFAULTSORT:Swimming Swimming, Summer Olympic sports Water sports Individual sports Athletic sports Bathing Racing